SAN DIEGO — The favorable Logan Webb statistics that jump off the page always go back to May 11. That’s when he started carving up opposing lineups with his sinker-slider combination.
The Giants went 16-1 in Webb’s 17 starts spanning back to that 10-strikeout start against Texas four months ago. He’d put together 15 straight starts of three or fewer earned runs, emerging as one of MLB’s best starters.
Before May 11, though, Webb was a 24-year-old unknown commodity in San Francisco’s starting rotation. He’d posted an ERA above 5.00 in his first two MLB seasons. The Rocklin (CA) product brimmed with potential, but looked like more of the same when he recorded a 4.13 in 28.1 April innings to start the 2021 campaign.
The Logan Webb that took the mound Thursday in the first inning at Petco Park resembled the pre-May 11 Webb much more closely than the ace Giants fans have grown accustomed to this summer. Even though he bounced back and the Giants briefly took a 5-4 lead, the first-inning deficit haunted the Giants as San Diego geared up for the bottom of the 10th.
The speedy Jurickson Profar was automatically placed on second, and Dominic Leone entered as the Giants’ seventh pitcher of the afternoon. Ha-Seong Kim moved both him and Trent Grisham into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Then catcher Victor Caratini walked it off with an infield single, handing the Giants (99-54) a 7-6 loss.
Before it came down to extra innings, Webb dug San Francisco into a hole in the first inning when he couldn’t find the strike zone. He threw 23 of 45 first-inning pitches for balls — four more than his seven-inning gem two weeks ago in Colorado. Webb walked Fernando Tatis Jr. and Eric Hosmer to load the bases, then hit Profar in the foot with a slider to score a run.
Two SD singles later, and the Padres led 4-0. Pitching coach Andrew Bailey’s mound visit didn’t help. José Quintana started getting loose in the visitor’s bullpen. Webb bounced an inside slider to the backstop and fell behind in the count against every Padre hitter. The Giants could’ve used those runs later in the game.
Eventually, Webb struck out Yu Darvish to end the inning after 26 minutes. He’d previously allowed just seven earned runs in the first inning all season.
Webb settled in afterwards, using 33 pitches in three scoreless frames, but the first inning set him — and the Giants — back. He exited after four innings, four earned runs, two walks and three strikeouts. It was his worst start since May 5 at Colorado, when he lasted 3.2 innings and allowed six runs. Without several bullpen options available because of a high workload, a deep Webb start would’ve been key.
Yu Darvish, though, also allowed four earned runs. The Giants had his number last time he faced SF; they whiffed on just five of his 96 pitches en route to a 9-1 victory on Sept 13 that clinched a playoff berth. SF didn’t quite dominate him this time around, but they still did damage.
Mike Yastrzemski launched a two-run shot against Darvish in the second to halve SD’s early lead. SF knocked Darvish out of the game in the top of the sixth, then Austin Slater’s pinch-hit home run scored the two runners Darvish left on base for reliever Tim Hill. Webb was off the hook for a decision.
Slater’s homer — San Francisco’s record-tying 17th pinch-hit bomb of the year — left his bat at 109.9 mph. It gave the Giants their first lead of the game, but that would only last 10 minutes.
Against José Quintana in the bottom of the sixth, Trent Grisham and Kim hit back-to-back solo homers. In the span of a minute, the Giants lost their 5-4 lead and fell behind 6-5. Around the same time, the Dodgers tied the Rockies in the ninth inning – a cosmic twist of fate from the baseball Gods.
Again almost simultaneously, the Dodgers took a lead in Denver and San Francisco knotted the score again in San Diego. Wilmer Flores and Tommy La Stella ripped back-to-back doubles in the seventh, and LA started their extra innings with a two-run 10th.
Kervin Castro relieved José Álvarez in the bottom of the seventh inning as the Dodgers’ win went final. He pitched 1.1 perfect innings, with three strikeouts, but SF couldn’t break the tie in the eighth or ninth. SF’s bullpen didn’t even throw pregame to help save their arms, but the Giants needed to use six bullpen arms including Leone to handle the bottom of the tenth.
SF is 5-4 since popping bottles after clinching a playoff berth on Sept. 13. With nine games left and the division lead back to one, every inning — even the extra ones, and especially the uncharacteristic ones — counts.